It seems that every headline I’ve read this month has been on cleansing, detoxing, fasting… all the ways to clear our bodies of the junk from 2014.
I suppose I’m a bit late to the party for starting my New Year’s detox regime, but I thought I’d share with you one method I’ll be revisiting this year: wheatgrass therapy. With so many reminders to “detox” and “cleanse” this month, I’m more determined than ever to give my liver a rest from its tough job, and not just for January. My 2015 resolution is to regularly cleanse by taking a shot of wheatgrass juice daily. This was also part of my training as a naturopath in New Zealand, where wheatgrass was on the top of my list as the queen of alkalizing drinks.
With a bit of preparation, you can add this powerful support for natural detoxification and rejuvenation to your cleanse and even your daily routine.
You may wonder… why wheatgrass? Technically a “seed leaf,” certified organic wheat is used to grow the grass, the raw material of the juice. Wheatgrass is the most concentrated form of vitamin B15, and according to the Mayo Clinic, “Wheatgrass provides a concentrated amount of nutrients, including iron; calcium; magnesium; amino acids; chlorophyll; and vitamins A, C and E.”
I was fortunate enough to meet the woman who was instrumental in popularizing wheatgrass for therapeutic purposes, the late Dr. Ann Wigmore, in person when I was a young naturopath in New Zealand. She was full of vitality and energy and a true inspiration.
I was sold on her methods from the first meeting and started growing wheatgrass in earnest. My kids and neighbors were my test subjects as I distributed fresh wheatgrass juice to anyone who was game enough to try it. One neighbor in particular, Duncan, started growing it for me. Bless his heart. How lucky we were to live and learn in those times.
Step 1 – Learn How to Practice Wheatgrass Therapy
In her autobiography Why Suffer—which focuses on using raw and living foods as well as her journey in discovering the nutritious benefits of wheatgrass—Dr. Wigmore reflects:
After finding this quick-growing, vital grass to be one of the richest in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, I chose to work with it alone. And so wheatgrass, the green sprouts of ordinary wheat, in which Nature collects the life-giving rays of the sun, the nourishment of the air and the minerals from the water and the soil, at that time became a part of the plan. It brought into my hands a simple, home-made food beverage which subsequent events suggested was capable of helping Mother Nature to mend shattered health and to extend the span of life.
There are quite a few ways to incorporate wheatgrass into your daily routine.
Try it as a water purifier. Place a few blades into your water and leave to sit overnight. The chlorophyll content in the grass helps absorb and neutralize any nasty chemicals in your water.
A more concentrated way to take it is as a fresh juice, dehydrated in a capsule, or the whole-leaf powder, which can be mixed into water, juice or a breakfast smoothie.
For me, a shot of wheatgrass juice is most powerful for its detoxifying benefits. And the fun part is you can grow it right in your own home next to your potted herbs. Who needs fake plants for décor when you can grow your own medicine right on your kitchen windowsill!
Step 2 – Grow Your Wheatgrass
- Soak two cups of certified organic wheat overnight.
- Fill any suitable container, like a small seed tray, with organic, fine soil, and pat down firmly with a flat board.
- Sprinkle soaked wheat on the soil and cover with a sprinkling of fine soil.
- Water, then cover with several layers of damp paper (not newspaper).
- Leave it, keeping it damp, until it begins to shoot.
- Remove the paper and put it in a warm spot with indirect sunlight.
- Water once or twice a day.
- Watch it grow.
Your wheatgrass is ready to cut when it’s four to seven inches high.
Step 3 – Extract the Wheatgrass Juice
Now that you’ve grown (or bought at your local health food store) and cut your wheatgrass, you’re ready to start reaping the detoxifying benefits.
You can find a special wheatgrass juicer, but an old-fashioned hand-cranked meat mincer or grain grinder works just as well.
- Cut the grass at soil level with a pair of scissors. Cut only the amount you intend to juice.
- Feed the grass cut-end first into the mincer. If you feed the top end in first you will end up with the grass wound tightly around the grinding blades. You will be left with juice and a pulpy mass.
Squeeze the pulpy mass through muslin and mix with water to extract more juice.
Be sure to use your wheatgrass juice when it’s fresh so not to lose any vital qualities on contact with the air. Try making up small quantities just as you need them.
The straight juice can be diluted with water or vegetable juice or flavored with kelp. You can also try adding it to your morning smoothie!
When all the grass is cut in the tray, the soil and wheat can be composted. It is possible to cut a second growth from the grass, but it is never as potent as the first.
So I’m off to buy organic wheat and source a second hand grinder—hope you can join me!
While wheatgrass is a fantastic source of vitamins and detoxifying qualities, it is only one element of a healthy, holistic lifestyle. My wish for all of us this year is that we take some time to slowly add wholesome habits into our lives… perhaps this week you begin a wheatgrass regimen, and next week, you can try enjoying a kale or spinach smoothie for breakfast a few times a week. However you plan to practice self-care this year, remember health and wellness is a day-to-day commitment. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and joyful 2015!
Have you tried growing and juicing wheatgrass? How do you plan to detox this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
 Vitamin B15 is also known as pangamic acid. According to WebMD, pangamic acid is often used for supporting healthy energy levels, respiratory health, skin, and other body systems. It is also commonly used for “detoxifying” the body.” From: WebMD. (2009). Find a Vitamin or Supplement: PANGAMIC ACID. webmd.com. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-490-pangamic%20acid.aspx?activeingredientid=490&activeingredientname=pangamic%20acid
 Bauer, B.A. (2014). Nutrition and Healthy Eating: What is wheatgrass, and should I add it to my smoothie for better health? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/wheatgrass/faq-20058018
 Wigmore, A. (2013)Why Suffer. Summertown, TN: Healthy Living Publications.
 Electric juicers and blenders are not as effective for extracting the juice. Ann Wigmore does not recommend their use because they oxidize the juice and lose valuable nutrients.